The Government’s backward and ill-thought through changes to overseas investment regulations are having a perverse effect and driving more land into the hands of overseas investors, National’s Spokesperson for Viticulture Stuart Smith says.
“Forestry is getting an easy pass under the Overseas Investment Act which allows for significant foreign investment in land.
“Meanwhile, other primary industries like viticulture are suffering because the profit à prendre scheme – which allows for the extraction of value from Kiwi-owned land while ensuring it remains in the hands of New Zealanders - is being tightened up.
“Viticulture is an industry which aims to keep land ownership within New Zealand by using profits a prendre. This means Kiwis own the land while overseas companies use it to grow grapes to make wine. This ensures more economic benefit remains in New Zealand while still encouraging overseas investment which creates jobs and boosts incomes.
“But the Government’s changes will make it harder for foreign investors to make a profit by working with New Zealand landowners. This will only mean more of them will look to buy the land they are using, taking jobs and investment with them.
“Additionally, Minister of Land Information Eugenie Sage has confirmed in select committee this week that we need more land to be freed up in order to meet the Government’s promise to plant a billion trees. She has ruled out using steep land for forestry, meaning productive farmland will be used for trees instead of grapes or cows.
“Other industries, including viticulture, are paying the price because of Shane Jones’ pet project. This is a kick in the guts for the regions.
“The changes from the Government will only drive more land sales into the hands of overseas investors – the very thing the Government claims it is trying to stop. It is typical of this Government to say one thing and do the opposite.
“It needs to start giving more thought to the policies which affect New Zealanders not making things up on the hoof. All industries must be subject to the same overseas investment regulations so that no one is at a disadvantage.”